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Airbus expects more wide-bodied aircraft for Asia Pacific carriers

Airbus forecasts that Asia Pacific carriers will need more wide-bodied aircraft over the next 20 years, led by an increasingly affluent middle class in Asia.

SINGAPORE: Airbus forecasts that Asia Pacific carriers will need more wide-bodied aircraft over the next 20 years, led by an increasingly affluent middle class in Asia.

And as air traffic looks set to double every 15 years, other non-Asian airlines are also keen to capture some of that traffic.

Vietnam's VietJetAir just firmed up its order for 63 A320 aircraft on Tuesday to meet the rising demand for air travel in Vietnam.

Founded in 2011, the Vietnamese Airline plies domestic routes as well as international routes to Bangkok, Seoul and Kunming in China with its current fleet of 11 leased planes.

And that pace shows no signs of slowing down across Asia.

Airbus say Asia Pacific will take delivery of 10,940 aircraft over the next 20 years, valued at US$1.8 trillion.

With air traffic set to double every 15 years, Airbus forecasts that 37 per cent of all new aircraft will be delivered to the Asia Pacific region over the next 20 years.

And with increasing urbanisation, Airbus believes there will be greater demand for wider body aircraft to transport more people more efficiently.

Certainly Airbus' ultra-wide A380 aircraft has proven a hit with Middle Eastern customers, a trend the company hopes will be followed by Asian carriers.

Mr John Leahy, COO of Airbus, said: "In terms of our backlog right now, it's the Middle East, but we are well represented out here. We have China Southern, We've got Singapore, Qantas, Malaysian and Thai and there are quite a few airlines here operating the A380."

But on Monday, Airbus' biggest competitor claimed otherwise, predicting smaller, single-aisle craft would prove most popular in Asia.

It's a theory some industry analysts agree with.

Mr Shukor Yusof, analyst at Standard & Poor's Capital IQ, said: "Notwithstanding demand for A380s, which I think will remain flat and stagnant, the way to go for Airbus is to really push for the A350 which in our view is the airplane of the future with its lower operating cost and lower maintenance, and its very fuel efficient."

Big planes or not, Middle Eastern carriers are hoping to cash in on the growing Asian market.

Mr James Hogan, CEO of Eithad Airways, said: "Asia is very important. There are strong links between Singapore and Abu Dhabi daily, and you see good traffic flow coming out of the Gulf states to Singapore. We also operate twice a day down to Jakarta, we codeshare and work with Garuda, and we have three flights a day to Bangkok. We have a good presence in Asia and we continue to build with our codeshare partners."

Still, some analysts warn of overcapacity in the region as deliveries accelerate in this region. 

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